6.1. Advantages of computers

There are many advantages of using computers in larger resource centres, or smaller resource centres that have a large number of periodicals, serve many users based at a distance, or provide a wide variety of services. The main advantages of computers are:

  • more information sources
  • more opportunities for cooperation and networking
  • increased access to the information in the resource centre
  • increased efficiency
  • more services

More information sources - A computer with a CD-ROM drive can provide access to materials stored on a CD-ROM, including databases (containing descriptions of materials) and full-text (complete) materials. A computer linked to a modem can provide access to information available via e-mail and other Internet services, such as electronic newsletters and websites.

More opportunities for cooperation and networking - A computer linked to a modem makes it easier to communicate with other resource centres, via e-mail. Sharing information among different resource centres can improve users’ access to information and cut down duplication of effort.

Increased access to the information stored in the resource centre - The main way to search for materials using a catalogue card system is by author, title, and a limited number of keywords. To add more keywords or other details would require more cards. This would require more work, and the catalogue would become larger and more difficult to keep up-to-date. A computer database enables materials to be searched using more keywords, or using other details such as series titles, publisher, year published or individual words from a title if the full title is not known, all without extra work.

Increased efficiency - Information stored on a computer database can be used for different purposes. For example, details of materials entered onto a database when ordering them can be used for a catalogue, simply by adding classification numbers and keywords. The same records can be used to produce current awareness bulletins or resource lists.

More services - A computer can be used to ‘repackage’ information held on a database, in the form of directories, resource lists or current awareness bulletins. Information held on the computer or available via the Internet can be adapted to produce locally relevant materials.